Hello and welcome to This Fortnight in Publishing.
You would notice that the format of this edition is a little different - there are more words, no pictures, and fewer articles. I'm hoping this would make this a more useful news bulletin - a quick summary of news that would be relevant to you, without you having to trawl through multiple links. The more eclectic articles that we usually feature will probably be moved to a social media page in the near future. Let me know what you think?
After India publishers complained directly to the International ISBN Agency about gross delays in allocating ISBNs, the agency reportedly wrote to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) (29 March) threatening to strip it of its right to issue ISBNs and delegate the responsibility to another government body. The ministry held a meeting on 31 May and has decided to process all ISBN applications within 48 hours. On 23 June, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) sought an explanation from the ministry on the issue.
There is a huge difference in public library access between different states in India. A meagre total of 75 public libraries are serving the over 200 million population of Uttar Pradesh, while 4,028 public libraries in Tamil Nadu serve its 67.8 million. Among other factors, funding plays an important role. Uttar Pradesh spends just about Rs 22 crore on its libraries while the amount spent by states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka run into hundreds of crores. A significant share of funds comes from the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF), which is the nodal agency of the Government of India to support public library services and systems. Its budget runs into a thousand million rupees and it supports approximately 34,000 out of the 70,000 public libraries in India under its various schemes. The irony is that despite the availability of funds, all states do not send in proposals. “We can only grant funds if we receive a proposal and are satisfied by it, but so many states, despite repeated letters, do not send their proposals in the first place,” Arun Kumar Chakraborty, Director General, RRRLF, said.
A new literary festival, Books on the Beach, is to be held at Kovalam, near Thiruvananthapruam, the capital of the state of Kerala, over three days from November 10. According to a news release, “writers of prose and poetry, fiction and nonfiction, essayists and environmentalists, artists and academics, reporters and editors, will conduct readings and recitals.” The lit-fest is to be organised by the non-profit India Book Foundation under the guidance and active patronage of Sashi Tharoor, the Thiruvananthapuram MP, and is to be supported by Kerala Tourism.
The Yogi Adityanath government plans to hold a literary festival in Varnasi in October this year. The Banaras Hindu University is expected to partner with the state government and co-host the LitFest on its campus. The event, which aims to shine a spotlight on Indian literature and Indian writers, would involve panel discussions, book launches, book readings, themed panaromas, and literary journeys through the writings of famous writers of the country as well as cultural shows. Around 500 attendees are expected daily.
PwC’s 2017 Global E&M Outlook projects that the global entertainment and media industry will clock 4.2% annual growth between 2016 and 2021 while the Indian industry is expected to grow at 10.6% to exceed Rs 291,000 crore by 2021. The report also predicts that India will be among the largest and fastest growing newspaper markets in the country, owing to the popularity of vernacular publications and rising literacy. “Unlike the global economy, which will see a shrinking contribution from the sector over the period, in India the sector’s growth will outpace the GDP growth rate,” said Frank D’Souza, partner and leader, entertainment and media, PwC India. “Also being the least digitised market will allow the traditional media to grow without being disrupted by digital competition,” he said.
Print media in India has grown by 61% in the last 10 years, figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) show. The ABC, which certifies the circulation figures of publications every six months, reported that the print industry in India has been growing at a CAGR of 4.87% over the 10-year period, with the strongest growth in North India, where print grew by 7.83% CAGR during the period, followed by the south with 4.95%. Much of the growth of the industry is due to the robust growth of regional titles, with Hindi publications topping the growth chart by a CAGR of 8.76% followed by Telugu with 8.28%. English newspapers grew at the rate of 2.87% in the same time.
In March, assembly speaker of Karnataka, KB Koliwad, announced the formation of a House Committee to frame rules and regulations for the news media to prevent them from sensationalising family disputes, crimes, and ghost stories to increase TRPs. This week, he instructed the police to arrest the editors of two Kannada tabloids--Ravi Belagere, who is Editor of 'Hi Bangalore', and Anil Raju, Editor of 'Yelahanka Voice'--if they failed to surrender, for publishing articles deemed defamatory by the House Privileges’ Committee. At the time of compiling this newsletter, Belagere had been admitted in SDM Hospital for chest pain.
Quite a few articles have cropped up over the last fortnight about the state of libraries in India, and it appears to be a concerted push by the Indian Public Library Movement (IPLM). The quarterly partners' meeting was held in Hyderabad recently, and perhaps the media blast is an outcome of that. The IPLM is funded by the NASSCOM Foundation, a wing of the not-for-profit industry body of the IT industry. “We are working in 22 States and have identified libraries that are either in dire straits or have already shown some promise in reinventing,” says Shubhangi Sharma, the IPLM Executive Director.
In a decision which may adversely affect the marketing of Indian books in other countries, the Ministry of Culture (MoC) has decided to merge the functions of the Central Reference Library (CRL) with the National Library. The CRL, located in the National Library campus in Kolkata, is responsible for the publication and sale of the Indian National Bibliography (INB). The INB is the list of all books published in India annually and is the key source for foreign libraries to know about the books published in India. It enables stakeholders to search for a book with the names of authors, languages, or subject matter without the ISBN number. With the merging of functions, there is a fear that there will be a disruption in the publication of the INB.
Naveen Kishore, founder and managing director of Seagull Books, delivered a talk at Junoon's Mumbai Local, a platform where artists and scientists come and share their passion through interactive sessions this month. In his words, "The Seagull way of life is a mercurial, flexible, broad-minded, tolerant and philosophical practice. We respond, therefore we practice. The urge to keep doing, to keep working away at something that enhances things cultural in some form or other; that benefits those that practice ‘things cultural’ and helps take them further, from Point A to Point D— that’s what drives us at Seagull. Every day,"
Online site Sci-Hub, launched by fomer neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011, has been a particular thorn in the side of academic publishers, providing free access to paywalled content without authorisation. Judge Robert Sweet ruled in October 2015 that the sites violated US copyright, and the courts have now awarded Elsevier $15 million in damages based on a representative sample of 100 infringed works. However, Nature.com said observers were questioning whether Elsevier would ever see any damages from Elbakyan, who resides outside the court's jurisdiction and has no assets in the United States, and how effective the ruling would be at getting Sci-Hub or other pirate sites to close.
The world’s biggest book publishers have been dragged into a bitter dispute between a US logging company and environmental campaigners Greenpeace. The dispute centres on claims by Greenpeace about the company’s logging practices in sections of Canada’s boreal forest, which are home to indigenous peoples as well as endangered wildlife. Resolute strongly disputes the claims. Last year, it followed up a 2013 defamation and economic interference lawsuit launched in Canada with a $226 million US claim under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (Rico). Publishers, including Penguin Random House and Murdoch-owned HarperCollins, became involved after a petition signed by more than 100 authors in support of Greenpeace was handed in at US publishing trade show BookExpo.
A closer reading of the opening sentence of Woolf's 1926 essay, "On Being Ill". An analysis of her influences, the context, and then the punctuation.
A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of US millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of gen Xers, 43% of baby boomers and 36% of those in the silent generation. Relatively high library use by millennials might be related to changes that many public libraries have undergone in the past 20 years. Previous Pew Research Center surveys have documented how extensively people use computers and internet connections at libraries, as well as how interested they are in extra services such as literacy programs for young children, meeting spaces for community groups, and technology “petting zoos” that provide opportunities to explore 3-D printers and other tech gadgetry.
'This Fortnight in Publishing' was started in April 2016 to bring together disparate sources of information about the publishing industry in India. Click here to have the newsletter delivered straight to your invoice.